Food for thoughtby Bruce Moon

To any reasonable people with a bit of natural pride in themselves, their way of life and their origins, asserting that their way is the best way is exactly what one would expect. Where those people are a large majority in their own country, of course that becomes the dominant culture, and by and large, all residents are expected to observe its norms.

At the same time, where there are minorities of any sort — of culture, religion, colour, political persuasion— all reasonable people will tolerate and accept them, as long as they do not attempt to impose their ways on anybody or attempt to upset the equilibrium of society.

Bishop PompallierA fine example in New Zealand since Hobson assured Bishop Pompallier at Waitangi, is our religious tolerance — the persecution of Jews and the brutal conflicts of Catholic/Protestant or Christian/Muslim have been absent from our shores. Of course, on rare occasions when a religious group has chosen to defy social norms and the law of the land, vigorous steps have been necessary to deal with it.

The nasty cults of Parihaka and Rua Kenana, who stated his seditious position in the middle of a major war, are among the few examples. And in those cases, the authorities’ response was fair and moderate.

So now, in the aftermath of the appalling tragedy in Christchurch, it surely comes as a considerable shock to find ourselves berated by prominent figures, of whom ‘Person of the Year’ Anne Salmond would be one, telling us that we are “white supremacists” who belittle others with ridicule, suppression and contempt.

And many others are using distorted accounts of our recent colonial past to use this situation to advance their political position and bid for more power.

Confronted with such challenges, it is time, I suggest, for all New Zealanders of good faith to assert their belief in themselves and their values of fairness, truth and democracy on which our fine country was founded.

(Reproduced with permission from the Northland Age.)